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AAR Aircraft celebrates milestones at Duluth facility

Avionics mechanics work on an Air Canada Airbus 321 computer system at AAR Aircraft Services last October. (2013 file / News Tribune)

When AAR Aircraft Services moved into the former Northwest Airlines Maintenance Base in Duluth in 2012, it made big promises.

It would create hundreds of jobs and bring the mammoth, vacant facility owned by the city of Duluth back to life.

AAR has accomplished both.

But when officials gather at the base Tuesday, they’ll be celebrating another major milestone — the completion of work on their 100th Air Canada jet.

While they’re at it, they’ll talk about the economic impact that the resurrected base near Duluth International Airport has made. Besides the creation of 305 jobs, they’ll note that AAR has had an annual economic impact on the state of $47 million since re-opening the hangar in November 2012.

The five-year contract that AAR landed with Air Canada for maintenance work at the Duluth base has everything to do with it.

With it, AAR does the industry-required checks on Air Canada’s fleet of 90 Airbus A319, A320 and A321 series jets.  The heavy duty servicing takes from seven to 45 days per plane.

With the Air Canada contract alone, AAR can bring  the 188,000-square-foot facility to full capacity of four fully staffed maintenance lines and 360 employees. AAR has three lines going.  And, they’re still hiring.

They continue to seek additional qualified workers, especially aircraft mechanics with air-frame and power-plant license certification to staff a fourth line.

Among those present for today’s event will be AAR and Air Canada corporate leaders, Jamshed Merchant, who is the consul general of Canada, and state and local elected officials.

Based in Illinois, AAR has five other maintenance, repair and overhaul bases, or MRO’s, around the country for commercial airline jets.